The sun was high above Mount Igman as the car zipped up the winding roads, passing charter buses full of elderly Sarajevo citizens. There were ten buses in all, slowly winding toward the top. The mission was a serious one: to set a Guinness World Record for most elderly people exercising on a mountain.
The citizens disembarked and spread out on the mountainside, to the surprise of several families out camping for the weekend. Once lunch was collected all shady spots in the vicinity were occupied. Each person received a paper grocery bag full of food to enjoy in the company of friends. Then, the exercise commenced. As is becoming noticeable in Bosnia, not all people who came decided to participate in the exercise. In fact, most stayed with their friends and families and watched. There were possibly 100 people participating in breathing exercises and arm stretches (some were Amerikankas – see below) and afterwards people joined hands and began to dance sevdalinka, a traditional Bosnian dance that looks kind of like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0USb5zievZs. Some women walked over to our group and taught us a few steps.
I felt so welcomed by the people that morning and humbled by their invitation to dance with them. It was especially salient for me that they were members of the older generation, who – in any culture – might be hesitant to welcome foreigners; even more so with Bosnians toward Americans because the US was involved in the NATO bombings at the end of the war. I’m so glad I decided to get up a bit earlier on that Saturday morning and spend my time on the mountain. What a rich experience.